How SportsPower Changed High School Football

A 10-game schedule can't possibly answer the too-often-asked question: How does my high school football team stack up against the rest of the country?

Using mathematics and game results, SportsPower Football has come up with the best solution: ratings and rankings that transcend local and go national--without a hint of bias.

SportsPower is tracking these rankings and will crown 2010 national champions in four high school football classes based on Active Power Ratings (APR).

The History

The idea of power ratings in sports goes back decades. It was put to use in the prep ranks in 1997 by Larry Feldman, who developed an engine that generated computer ratings for college and high school lacrosse. That was the foundation for, which has since become one of the most popular lacrosse destinations on the Internet.

Expanding the LaxPower concept to other sports became a reality in the summer of 2007 with the creation of the SportsPower brand. Almost immediately, the power ratings were expanded into football.

SportsPower Football launched in time for the 2007 season, and by the end of the year four national champions were crowned based on the ratings: Katy (Texas) in the Mega division, St. Xavier (Ohio) in Large, Driscoll (Ill.) Catholic in Mid and Marion (Ohio) Local in Small.

The Ratings

The focus moving forward, then, is simple: get every single game in the country into SportsPower's Power Ratings Engine in a timely fashion, so the increase in data can lead to even more accurate ratings.

Most games from the previous weekend will be in SportsPower's database by Monday. Updated ratings will be released at that time, and tweaked throughout the week as the remaining scores trickle in.

The APR is calculated using a formula by the Power Ratings Engine. Up to 11 different criteria are included, including win-loss record, margin of victory, strength of schedule and quality of wins. The setup is similar to the LaxPower ratings, which have been around since 1997 and, as a result, have established credibility.

See For Yourself

The setup forces objectivity, too. Previous seasons or past tradition mean nothing to the 2008 ratings. The Power Ratings Engine has no idea who was supposed to win a given game--only who DID win. Using the ratings, SportsPower can rank teams based on the most important criteria: results.

The Rankings

All teams are given a rating, and that's when it gets interesting.

The rating can be compared against similar teams--SportsPower has divided the 15,000 or so high schools up into four nationwide classifications based on enrollment. From there, a user can easily see how their school stacks up against similar-sized schools in their state, region or across the country.

The ratings fluctuate as the season progresses and games are won and lost. So, too, do the rankings. Schools that lose their opening game still can rebound nicely and claw their way back up toward the top. Similarly, teams riding high can be derailed by an unexpected late-season loss.

For now, the chase for the SportsPower national football crown is underway. And everybody--all 15,000 high schools across the United States--are free to run after it.

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